My Fifth Full Marathon
My First Night Marathon
Part One of Weekend Run Combo
It has always been a dream of mine to do a long night run. The Putrajaya Night Marathon was the perfect venue for me to test my night running abilities. Had heard from others how hot the street lights are and how humid the conditions are. One person even told me that night running saps 20% more energy from the runner. The only thing I was sure of was that when my FM started at 8pm, I better not be thinking about food. So what I did when I had my breakfast at the coffee shop was to have nasi goreng ayam AND roti sardin. Only then was I satisfied that I had enough in my belly to last me till gun time. The other big fear was whether I could get enough sleep or not and of course going to the toilet. The latter was easily solved twice. Sleep came later than expected. Managed to squeeze in a couple of hours. Had to be up by four to make sure that I had not forgotten anything for the run - that meant checking everything for the umpteenth time. Our friends were picking us up at 5pm.
|Nasa Zaidul, me, Ryan Tay and friends|
|Nasa and Cynthia Andrew|
We were good to go at the appointed time. They were late, but since Cynthia would be running 21km, we weren't worried. In fact, when she and her bf did arrive we found Precinct 3 at Putrajaya in record time. I had to make sure we hooked up with my buddy Ryan Tay from Kuching as we had his 21km bib. He had arrived on a later flight and was unable to collect it himself. We found Ryan, and later some other friends from Kuching who were going to run 21km too. However, the bulk of our Kuching runners would be attempting the full distance. Rain threatened. It drizzled intermittently. Since I had my running cap on, I wasn't that worried. Plus, I was wearing stuff that dried quickly. Did munch on an energy bar and drink a new hydration mix I had gotten just for this marathon. That done, I felt I was good to go. All I needed was a quick trip to the loo. Usually really hate portable toilets, so will always seek out one in a building. And with that taken care of, I headed to the FM corral.
|Taking to Uncle Oliver (pic: Rustam Affandi Zaihan)|
This time around there were no plans for taking pictures, so no camera was with me. Also kept my music in its pouch. For River Jungle Marathon I had survived without music. With the continuous drizzle I decided to forego music altogether. Met several familiar faces, amongst them were my blogging buddy Hafiz Aizat, the always smiling YK Foo, and the always spritely Uncle Oliver Ker . Finally got to meet Karim Gila Bola, and really admired his very new looking Marathon Maniac running top. Was always used to seeing Mohan Marathon's worn down one. Sorry Mo, but it's true! Got a hug from the running diva herself, Karen Loh. Badly want to run as a pacer in her marathon come March next year. Now who shall I pace? Hmmm.... Those who know me, know my obsession with running long, so 21km is out of the question unless it is the only distance available. Besides, next year I want to mix things up and try different things. Everything next year for me would revolve around the Kuching Marathon, which would occur 10 days before I get even older.
Into the darkness we go
The plan for me was to run BSN PNM at 6:00 pace. Even had a pace band made out just for that. Everything felt good at the start. Ran my usual way while trying to get my engine warmed up. Caught up with Hafiz along the route. He was planning on a 5:30 run. Followed behind him for quite a bit. Was feeling really strong so decided to go past him. My engine was working fine. There was no need to slow my pace down. In fact, every time I looked at my pace band I was running ahead of time. It came to the point where I even texted MBF at the 21km sign that I was 24 minutes ahead of my 6:00 pace. The fastest I have ever run an HM was 2:30. Halfway through the marathon my watch showed that it took only 2:35. For me that was fast! I never dreamed of running a sub-5 so I knew I had to slow down. In fact there was a big chance that Hafiz would catch up with me again. Instead of taking my gels at 7km intervals, I took my first one at 10km and then my second one after the halfway point.
Another new thing I tried were GU Chewies. Had the strawberry ones. Those were nice. Took two at a time when I needed it. It had drizzled earlier into the run. After that, rain never threatened again. Felt a slight aching in my right heel from km13 onwards but it was never really a big problem for me. Yes, I was slowing down but I was expecting that. The banana at the fruit station was nice. Later we would be surprised with watermelon slices. Ate five. In my defense, it was really small. The promised gel arrived with a bit of caffeine in it. The taste made me cringe but I needed a boost at km32. Later there would be people handing out tiny cups of Ribena or Pepsi. When in doubt, always go for the caffeine is my rule of thumb. Said no to the offered Snickers bar. Having never eaten chocolate on a long run, I would never risk it. The km markers seem to come and go faster than ever. All systems were going good. It was very quiet though. That was the biggest thing I noticed.
Of course there were groups of people cheering us on. There were pom pom girls, Avenger characters with bulging foam muscles too. Spidey was late to greet us and was seen running to his cheer point. The fire breathers amazed me and I enjoyed the haka dance. There was a marching band too. I saw drums covered up because of the rain, so we missed that bit of fun. Fire works lighted up the night sky at one point. Apart from that, heard whistles and thought of Mo, but it was the traffic controllers. A big thank you to young lad who gave me ice cubes filled in a surgical glove. Really needed that to cool my neck down. The sponges don't do much for me. After my experiences at RJM, I always want ice cubes. Came across Winnie Wong, another Marathon Maniac. She always tries to get me running, like at BIM. This time though I had the legs for it. By km30, I knew for sure a sub-5 was not possible. That was my joke to myself. What was sure was that I was slowing down bit by bit. The blame lay in the extra 10kg hydration pack I carried in my body. I had weighed in at 95kg before the run you see.
Ran with two 300ml bottles of my secret hydration mix. Used it sparingly because there were lots of 100 Plus isotonic drinks available. Have been to runs where the isotonic drinks had run out but not here. Even near the very end of the run the sponges were really cold. Now that is what I like. Made an effort to thank the crew whenever possible. Two traffic cops encouraged me on at an intersection. That was when I had only a handful of kms to go. Met up with another guy and we decided to run together till the finishing line. The clock was ticking and yes, I was still ahead of schedule. So you can imagine my surprise when I saw the time and it read 5:46. I had another PB! My BIM time had been bettered and battered by 22 minutes! It pays not to run with a camera and take lots of pictures. It pays not to go into a convenience store - not that there were any along the route - and chat up the proprietors. Was more serious this time around. Yes, some of the inclines did get to me. Ran as smart as I could so that I had something left in my tank for the finish.
Finish line joy
MBF, Cynthia and her bf, were waiting for me at the finishing line. It's always good to be greeted by familiar faces. For a short while I did rest. Took the opportunity to replenish fluids. Then went looking for Mohan. Found him. He wasn't able to run because of injury. Yet he was there to lend his support to all the runners. That was really big of him. The others from our Kuching group had long since gone. Wasn't surprised since I was the slowest runner of the bunch. Then we headed off to our hotel next to Sunway Pyramid. I did a quick change. Wore my pink Finisher t-shirt. Always nice to have that on. If not, I would have been forced to wear my medal for the latest supper ever. This time around was truly ravenous. Ate nasi Pattaya and mee goreng. The mee goreng was a tad spicy so I couldn't finish it. Knew I needed to sleep since I would be running another race at 6.45am. Yes, that was Part Two of my combo run. I tried desperately to sleep but couldn't. In the end did manage to squeeze in an hour of shut eye.
|Mohd Adzale Ainuddin and me meters from the end|
|Totally kaputed and it shows|
|Looking terrified at the photographer! (pic: Tey Eng Tiong)|
|Always happy to meet Mohan (Pic: Tey Eng Tiong)|
|Man hug time! (Pic: Tey Eng Tiong)|
|Mohan, Cynthia, me and Nasa|
|Cynthia and her boyfriend|
|Winnie Wong and me|
What did I learn from Putrajaya Night Marathon? The most important thing for me was that I could run faster and longer without walking. There were even times when it felt easy. This I attribute to my two runs the weekend before. Had taken part in a 10km run at a leisurely speed that Saturday. Then on Sunday had run 5km up a mountain road and 5km down it. Felt really strong then too. Unknown to me it would be a harbinger of good things to come. Honestly don't know if I can go any faster in my next full marathon. I'll take it one run at a time. If I feel good at that moment, I might consider going for it. There's no need for me to PB in every run. There will be times when I just don't have it. I have to accept that. The fact that I am now a sub-6 marathon runner means a lot to me mentally. My confidence in my body's performance has improved greatly. Gone are the worries of cramping up or losing even more toenails. I look forward to my next full marathon. As things stand now I am a happy runner indeed.